Neighborhoods and Districts
Tucson's first historic district offers an eclectic mix of architectural styles including Spanish, Victorian, Queen Anne, mission, Spanish Colonial Revival and California bungalow. The Temple of Music and Art (Tucson performance center for Arizona Theatre Company), Tucson Children's Museum and Tucson Center for the Performing Arts are all located in this 30-block area. The district extends from East 12th Street to 19th Street and from Stone Avenue to Second Avenue.
Barrio Historico (Barrio Viejo)
This neighborhood was established as Tucson spread south from the original Presidio settlement. It contains a large collection of old adobe buildings and offers excellent examples of Sonoran architecture built from local materials, including mesquite wood and saguaro cactus ribs. Originally a self-contained "city within a city," the 20-block Barrio was home to a wide range of ethnic groups over the years, and the variety of shops and buildings offers obvious evidence of that. The Barrio extends from Cushing Street to 18th Street and from the railroad tracks to Stone Avenue.
Downtown Arts District
A popular spot for arts and cultural events throughout the year, this area has galleries, shops, theaters and sidewalk cafes. La Placita Village (110 S. Church Ave.) is the attractive and colorful focal point of the district, which also houses the offices of the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau. The district extends from Interstate 10 to Fourth Avenue and from 15th Street to Toole Avenue.
El Presidio Historic District
The site of Tucson's original settlement in 1775, this 12-block area is now home to historic buildings, local artisans, restaurants and the Tucson Museum of Art. If you have just a short time to get a taste of Tucson, this is the place to do it. El Presidio extends from Alameda Street to Sixth Street and from Granada Avenue to Church Avenue.
Pie Allen Historic District
Fresh fruit was hard to come by in Tucson's frontier days, so John "Pie" Allen became famous for his dried-apple pies. He also served as Tucson's mayor. This district was named in his honor. These 24 blocks just west of the University of Arizona are representative of Tucson's building boom in the late 1800s, with several buildings designed by the city's best-known architect, Josias Joesler. The district is roughly bounded by North Euclid Avenue, East Sixth Street, North Park Avenue and East 10th Street.
With a Mexican-American population of 83%, this 1-mile-square city—completely surrounded by Tucson—is home to some of the best Mexican restaurants in the state. The city also is known for its public art projects, particularly murals, tile art and other installations along newly redesigned South Fourth Avenue. The city of South Tucson is located at the junction of Interstate 10 and I-19, 1.5 miles south of downtown Tucson.
ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center
W. Pima Mine Road (about 20 minutes south of Tucson), Sahuarita.
Tuesday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm. Free admission to the Mineral Discovery Center
exhibits, Discovery Theater, and gift shop.
The center takes you from the beginning of Arizona mining to the present-day industry with exhibits about geology, minerals, mining methods and equipment. An optional one-hour bus tour of the ASARCO open-pit mine and mill is available.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Road (30 minutes northwest of downtown), Tucson.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. October through February and from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. March through September.
Visit a zoo, a natural history museum, and a botanical garden when you visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The attraction has an array of wildlife, including Gila monsters and hummingbirds. The museum sits in the Tucson Mountains and is perfectly blended with the breathtaking scenery.
Arizona State Museum
The Arizona State Museum (ASM) is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and is the oldest and largest anthropology museum in the region. ASM demonstrates the life of the southwest with research projects and collections. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Biosphere 2 Center
Oracle Road (Highway 77) at mile marker 96.5 (about 20 minutes north of Tucson), Oracle.
Daily 9 am-4 pm.
Built in the late 1980s with $150 million in funding from Texas oil magnate Edward Bass, Biosphere 2 is an airtight replica of Earth's environment. This 7,200,000 cubic-foot sealed glass structure contains five biomes, including a 900,000-gallon ocean, a desert, a rain forest, agricultural areas, and a human habitat. Biosphere 2 was built in the interest of space travel and with the possibility of colonizing the Moon or Mars in mind. By building Biosphere 2 and sealing people inside, scientists hoped to learn what problems would arise from living in a closed system. To this end, a colony of eight people from different countries set about to live inside Biosphere 2 for two years in 1991. Since then, there have been no resident crews living inside Biosphere 2 and no future human habitation is planned. The guided tour leads visitors Under the Glass to experience first-hand the Center's re-created "miniworld." Visitors are advised to wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking.
102 W. Washington St.
El Presidio District, Tucson.
This is the 1868 home of carpenter Leonardo Romero, who helped construct the original St. Augustine Cathedral. It is said that this home included part of the original Presidio wall. Sunday noon-4 pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Monday June-August). 10 am-1 pm).
7406 S. Camino de Oeste.
Daily 24 hours.
Take Interstate 10 to I-19 South, exit at Valencia and turn right. At Camino de Oeste, turn left for Casino of the Sun.
Casino del Sol
Take Interstate 10 to I-19 South, exit at Valencia and turn right. At Camino de Oeste continue straight for Casino del Sol.
5655 W. Valencia Road.
Dining and gaming in the form of slots, blackjack and video poker, video craps and video roulette await visitors to these two casinos operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
Catalina State Park
Oracle Road (Highway 77, about 20 minutes from downtown), Tucson.
Daily 5 am-10 pm, Visitor Center open daily 8 am-5 pm.
History and nature come together at this park. The Romero Ruin Interpretive Trail leads to an ancient Hohokam People village, and the rest of the park offers fantastic views of the Catalina Mountains' cliffs, canyons, domes and spires. You may even see bighorn sheep
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
16711 Old Spanish Trail (about 16 miles east of Tucson)
September Monday-Saturday 8 am-6 pm, Sunday 8 am-7 pm; 16 September-15 March
Monday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm, Sunday 9 am-6 pm.
This dormant mountain cave is filled with fantastic formations stalactites, stalagmites, helictites and flowstone, and it's also filled with history. You'll learn about the bandits and train robbers who once used the caves as a hideout and the story of how the caves were discovered and opened to the public. The guided cave tour goes down about six and a half stories, and you must walk back up, so be prepared for a slightly strenuous outing. The temperature inside the cave remains about 70 F, so it is a pleasant place to visit any time of the year.
Desert Diamond Casino (New)
The newest Desert Diamond is located just seven minutes south of Valencia Road on I I9.
Monday-Friday 9 am-4 am, Saturday and Sunday
Two locations operated by the Tohono O'odham Nation offer slots, blackjack, bingo and satellite Keno.
Desert Diamond Casino (Original)
The original Desert Diamond Casino, just west of the Tucson International Airport on South Nogales Highway, is open daily 24 hours.
Edward Nye Fish House
120 N. Main Ave.
El Presidio District, Tucson.
Sunday noon-4 pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Monday June-August). (free admission on Sunday 10 am-1 pm).
This excellent example of a territorial-style adobe home was built in 1867 on the site of the original Presidio's military barracks. Its thick walls and saguaro rib ceilings are typical of the architecture of that period. Today, the property houses the Goodman Pavilion of Western Art, which is part of the Tucson Museum of Art.
Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
1601 University Blvd. (at Cherry Avenue on the University of Arizona campus), Tucson.
Sunday 1-5 pm,
Monday-Wednesday 9 am-5 pm, Thursday-Saturday 9 am-5 pm and 7-9 pm.
The University of Arizona's on-campus observatory, science center and planetarium. Interactive science exhibits educate and entertain, and the multimedia planetarium focuses on everything from ancient cultural practices and beliefs to the latest scientific discoveries.
Fort Lowell Museum
2900 N. Craycroft Road (in Fort Lowell Park), Tucson.
A few miles outside the original Presidio, this fort was the regimental headquarters of the 6th U.S. Cavalry. The fort fell to ruin when it was closed in the late 1800s, but the Arizona Historical Society has restored the commanding officer's quarters and stocked it with furnishings and artifacts from the period. Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm. 12-18, free under 12 (free admission first Saturday of each month).
International Wildlife Museum
4800 W. Gates Pass Road (near Old Tucson Studios), Tucson.
Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm, Saturday and Sunday 9 am-6 pm
The Safari Club International's nonprofit educational institute was founded in 1988 to educate visitors about Arizona's native wildlife, plus mammals, insects and birds from around the world. More than 400 species are on display, with many hands-on exhibits. A restaurant and gift shop are on-site, too.
This interactive attraction has more than 400 species of mammals, birds, and insects from around the world. Unlike zoos, the International Wildlife Museum doesn’t collect animals for exhibition. Animals are entrusted to the museum via donations. The museum also has a 98-seat movie theater that shows wildlife and natural history films at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The International Wildlife Museum is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
J. Knox Corbett House
180 N. Main Ave., El Presidio District, Tucson.
Sunday noon-4 pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Monday June-August). Unlike the adobe and southwestern-style homes that surround it, the Corbett House was built in mission-revival style in the early 1900s. The house was once the home of Tucson's postmaster, but now abounds with rare arts and crafts. Be sure to see the medicine cabinets full of healing powders.
Kitt Peak Observatory
The observatory is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. There are daily guided tours at the Kitt Peak Observatory, which is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Kitt Peak operates three nighttime telescopes, 19 optical telescopes, and two radio telescopes.
La Casa Cordova
175 N. Meyer Ave., El Presidio District, Tucson
Sunday noon-4 pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Monday June-August).
(free admission on Sunday 10 am-1 pm).
Tucson's oldest home, built in the mid-1800s is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and offers exhibits chronicling El Presidio District history. If you're visiting Tucson during the winter months, be sure to check out El Nacimiento, an elaborate holiday nativity scene depicting life in the Presidio and in Mexico, with more than 300 earthenware figurines.
Mount Lemmon Ski Valley
Most people don’t think of snow and skiing when they think of Tucson, but a trip to Mount Lemmon Ski Valley will change that perception. Mount Lemmon is more than 9,000 feet tall and is the southernmost ski area in the United States. People go skiing here from mid-December to early April. The site is an hour from Tucson and has ski equipment rentals, ski instruction, a restaurant and snack bar, and a gift shop.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
1950 W. San Xavier Road (on the Tohono O'odham Reservation
10 mi/16 km south of Tucson on I-19),
The original mission founded by Father Kino has been expanded and restored since it was erected in 1694. This "White Dove of the Desert" is a superb example of Spanish-mission architecture and houses a museum with religious artifacts and relics of the native peoples of the area. Gift shop and traditional Tohono O'odham arts and crafts shops on the premises. Daily 8 am-5 pm. Masses are held throughout the day, and self-guided tours are permitted. Free, but donations are accepted.
Old Tucson Studios
201 S. Kinney Road (about 25 minutes northwest of downtown), Tucson.
Daily 10 am-6
This replica of an 1880s frontier town is part television and film studio, part amusement park. Built in 1939, it has served as the set for more than 300 cowboy movies and TV shows, including The Quick and the Dead and Gunsmoke. Today, it's still a film studio, but it also has live western shows, a steam train, pony rides and the Western Legends Museum. The site also has major concerts, festivals, sports events, and children’s activities.
Pima County Courthouse
115 N. Church Ave.,
This building, completed in 1929, is a good example of Spanish Colonial architecture. Its Moorish mosaic-tiled dome is lovely. A segment of the original Presidio wall (which surrounded Tucson's first settlement) can be viewed inside the building (plaques indicate where the wall once stood in the courtyard). Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm. Free.
Pima Air & Space Museum
6000 E. Valencia Road (northeast of Tucson International Airport), Tucson.
More than 200 painstakingly restored aircraft, ranging from a Wright Brothers plane to the high-tech flyer, the SR-71 Blackbird. Don't miss the chance to tour the nearby Davis-Monthan AFB "Aircraft Graveyard," which has more than 5,000 aircraft, including World War II vintage and U.S. presidential planes. Tours are led by museum personnel and depart from the gift shop. In winter, reservations for these tours sometimes fill up months in advance. The museum is open daily 9 am-5 pm. Advance reservations required for "Boneyard" tours. Museum admission
22nd Street and Country Club Road (just east of downtown), Tucson.
Probably Tucson's most popular city park, this expansive greenbelt houses the Reid Park Zoo, the Hi Corbett Field baseball complex, a tiny lake with ducks and paddleboats, an amphitheater with frequent music and theater events, a rose garden and even its own golf course. Daily 8 am-10 pm. Free, with fees for some events and recreation
Reid Park Zoo
1030 S. Randolph Way (in Reid Park), Tucson.
Daily 9 am-4 pm.
More than 400 animals from around the world can be seen in naturalistic surroundings at this zoo, located on the grounds of one of the city's most popular parks. Rhinos, zebras, elephants, polar bears, giraffes, baboons and anteaters are among the many species in residence.
is a pleasant oasis just northeast of town. Mammoths roamed through that area
some 12,000 years ago, and around the year 1200, the Hohokam constructed
irrigation dams there. Today, Sabino Canyon provides an abundance of hiking
trails and picnic spots, and you can take narrated shuttle-bus rides through
this magnificent area of mountain peaks and canyons.
Saguaro National Park
Phone 520-733-5158 (east).
Phone 520-773-5100 (west).
The entrance to the eastern part of the park is at Old Spanish Trail Road, 5 miles east of Tucson. The entrance to the western part of the park is at Kinney Road, 10 miles west of Tucson. Parks open daily 7 am-sunset, visitor centers open daily 8:30 am-5 pm. at east park.
acres/40,000 hectares of desert are divided into two parks, and both are filled
with saguaro cacti, the tall, green cactus with long arms. Many of these plants
are quite old: Each arm can take anywhere from 75 to 100 years to grow. In late
May, the saguaro produces white flowers. The western half of the park contains
the Signal Hill Petroglyphs; the eastern park is home to the area's highest
San Xavier del Bac
This structure, completed in 1797, still serves the community. San Xavier del Bac Mission is 12 miles south of Tucson and is decorated in the Baroque-style of Spain. The mission is located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation.
151 S. Granada Ave. (just north of the Tucson Convention Center), downtown, Tucson.
Operated by the Arizona Historical Society, this home was the residence of two pioneering Tucson families (the Sosas and the Carrillos) as well as the daughter of the fifth Arizona territorial governor, John C. Fremont. The building has been restored to its 1870s splendor and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wednesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm..
Modeled after the Cathedral of Queretaro in Mexico, this turn-of-the-20th-century church has a bronze statue of St. Augustine above the entrance. In keeping with the church's desert environs, a saguaro cactus, a yucca plant and a horned lizard are also depicted. Mariachi music is featured at the 8 am Sunday mass. Other masses are celebrated on Sunday and throughout the week. Free, but donations are accepted. 192 S. Stone Ave., downtown, Tucson. Phone 520-623-6351.
150 N. Main Ave., El Presidio District, Tucson.
pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Monday June-August
Much local folklore surrounds this home. It is said that Hiram Stevens, a local politician in the mid-1800s, shot his young wife in the head and then committed suicide there. Thanks to her silver hair comb, though, his wife survived.
Tucson Botanical Gardens is a respite in the heart of the city. The 5-acre spot has 15 specialty gardens with more than 4,200 plants. The attraction is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except on July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
A ballistic missile museum that gives you a close-up look at the Titan missile program and the part it played in the Cold War. At one time, the 165-ton liquid-fuel rocket held a nuclear payload 214 times more powerful than the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. November-April daily 9 am-5 pm, May-October Wednesday-Sunday 9 am-5 pm. 1580 W. Duval Mine Road (about 20 minutes south of Tucson), Sahuarita. Phone 520-625-7736.
Tucson Children's Museum
200 S. Sixth Ave. (in the Carnegie Library building), downtown, Tucson.
An interactive facility where kids can practice being doctors, lawyers and firefighters. There's also a dinosaur exhibit with hand-crafted models. Sunday noon-5 pm, Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-5 pm..
Tucson Museum of Art
140 N. Main Ave., El Presidio District, Tucson.
pm, Monday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm (closed Mondays June-August).
The permanent collection of more than 5,000 works includes Asian, pre-Columbian, Hispanic and contemporary American art (including art from the Southwest). Founded in 1924, the museum property includes five historic Tucson homes (La Casa Cordova, the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont House and the former homes of Edward Nye Fish, J. Knox Corbett and Leonardo Romero), which may be toured.
Tohono Chul Park
7366 N. Paseo del Norte, Tucson.
Newly renovated with additional exhibit areas and shops, this "desert corner" (chul means "corner" in the Tohono O'odham language) teems with Sonoran plant and animal life. A short trail takes you through gardens and washes, another goes through natural desert surroundings. Many bird species, including hummingbirds and quail, gravitate to the park's aviary area. The 1937 adobe Exhibit House hosts regular activities, exhibits and events. The Tea Room and Garden Cafe is a charming spot to enjoy breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea. The park is open daily 8 am-5 pm. Galleries and shops are open daily 8:30 am-5 pm. The Tea Room is open daily 8 am-5 pm.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
Daily 8:30 am-4:30 pm.
2150 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson.
In the heart of the city lies a 5-acre/12-hectare garden oasis featuring more than 4,000 individual plants representing different horticultural environments. Fifteen specialty gardens include a historical garden, an herb garden, a butterfly garden, a cactus and succulent garden, and more. Don't miss the enclosed Tropical Exhibit, whose leafy greenery and high humidity offer a refreshingly vivid contrast to the arid Sonoran Desert.
Tucson Electric Park
Major League Baseball is in full swing during the spring at Tucson Electric Park. This facility is considered to be one of the best spring training sites in the country. The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago White Sox train at this 3,000-seat stadium. The Diamondback’s AAA affiliate, the Tucson Sidewinders also train and play here. The park sits in the Kino Veterans Memorial Complex. Check with the park’s box office for game times and opponents.
University of Arizona Mineral Museum
University Boulevard and Cherry Avenue (in the Flandrau Science Center on the University of Arizona campus), Tucson. Phone 520-621-4227.
Sunday 1-5 pm,
Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm.
Examples of more than 15,000 minerals, gems and even meteorites from the museum's permanent collection are circulated through the university's exhibits, making it one of the largest public collections in the U.S. About 2,000 artifacts are on display at any given time. Other exhibits chronicle the history of Arizona mining and minerals.